Seattle Solstice – Journal 6/21/17

Happy first day of Summer, everybody. Let’s make it a good season!

The take from my birthday was a bunch of cool stuff including but not limited to writing utensils! My sister always pulls through with a moleskine, and this time that rang true with one to replace the completed one that she had gotten for me last year when I turned 19.

Writing is a tricky mistress. With my camera, I can frame up and shoot a photo in about 3 seconds, adjusting for shutter speed and f-stop if I need to. Writing? You have to sit down and think about writing. To communicate an idea as effectively as a photograph is something… escaping me at the moment.

Confession time: out of most everything I have ever written, very, very few times have I sat down with a schema or anything to write to the tune to. Sometimes I’ll use songs or something like that, but I’ve never sat down with the intention of writing a sonnet, or a villanelle. I’ve done pantoums, a sestina (Forever Seam), and sometimes some things with structure. For the most part, I’m a firm believer in vers libre, but I eyeball all my syllable counts in poems and things like that.

I can’t name off the top of my head a time where I sat down with a poem I’ve written and really beat form and consistency into it. I stick to quatrain poems, which is that 4 line stanza structures, because that lends itself to some good enjambment and easy rhyme set ups. Though, I do go all over the place.

Which is something I do want to do. In my advanced writing class, people would throw out words about form that I’m sure I’ve heard but never fully understood, and then turn around and praise my use of those things in my poems. It makes me think I’m not educated about something I’m good at, which is a strange thought.

I opened up talking about photographs because with my notebooks following me around, so too does my Canon. You’ve no doubt noticed on Radio Reality. City that I credit a lot of my photos as being taken with it, and that’s because for the most part it’s always with me.

I was in Seattle practically all day yesterday, and not one photo I don’t think captures any part of the experience very well. Sure, they’re photographs of interesting people and places, but there doesn’t seem to be much feeling behind them. So I’ve been pouring through them and cleaning up the ones that I’ll put up here (a lot, actually), and trying to find the ones that strike me the most.

joint rolling

The photograph above was one I took yesterday, at Freeway Park. You can see the design of the concrete facades as well as some foliage, the apartment building in the background, and of course the man off-center sitting down there. What does it capture? Where is the feeling? Maybe it’s me in the haze of this, but while I think it’s a neat photograph, as an art piece what can I say about it?

Perhaps this photo is a red herring to what Seattle means. Though, I take better pictures the more something means to me, it seems. Olympia? I can get photos for days from that place. Good ones, too, like the Capitol Lake: April 2017 shot. This photo from Freeway park is more about solitude and peace, not the chaos and invisibility an individual can have in a concrete jungle.

Pictures are supposed to be a thousand words, and yet less than a hundred can describe what I think about the man in Freeway Park. This picture can’t tell you about the chill in the air, nor the people behind me who where also taking pictures. How can you capture the vibe of a city such as Seattle all in one go? Is it even possible?

In places of high urban density such as Seattle, I like to take photographs of the skyscrapers that surround the streets. I’ve done a lot of that yesterday as well, but it isn’t the first time I’ve done it in Seattle.

view from king street

Something like this is much more appropriately Seattle, to me (this photo was put up a while back). At least here we’re starting to get more at the urban jungle I like about the place. The vibe is a little visible with some cars on the lower right hand side, but all the while the monolithic structures tower over everything else.

Still, what about it is art yet? The touching up to balance the white exposure? The framing of the buildings within the photo? I don’t quite know yet. It could be the “Seattle Lighting” sign there at lower center, being some kind of extra reference hitherto unknown.

Yet I sit here after an entire ten hours in Seattle yesterday with a copy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War from a Barnes and Noble, a Celtic knot notebook, an original poem called “Brave”, and hundreds of photographs.

I find it difficult to put into words how emotionless I am about the city, and I’m trying to rack up why that is. I do have emotions there in isolated pockets, in very certain barrios. But Pike’s Place Market and the Space Needle only serve to make me think I’m nothing but another tourist, taking pictures for the picture’s sake and not because they’re art. At what point is it pointless? My high school art teacher would be so very cross at the sentiment.

Emotionless to the point that I only have one poem from a day that could net at least three. Which isn’t exactly normal. I can’t step foot in Olympia without the tides changing and winds sweeping into my creative taps to make them flow. Even in Puyallup where absolutely nothing happens I have enough to make something on certain days.

Seattle is supposed to be this mystical experience that is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. I used to be envious when people said they were going to Seattle, and even I was excited to go this time. But I don’t know what’s happened.

It isn’t the money, though paying for parking is a bitch and I hate it. It isn’t the time spent walking, because that’s part of it. There was not a single detriment to the trip and journey and yet I can make nothing from the hours I spent there yesterday. Just strange to me, is all.

I know I definitely haven’t run out of steam for it, but it’s just that I can normally immediately return home to make art from what I experience. This time I fear I might not be able to capture Seattle as I have captured other cities before.

We shall see.

This journal’s excerpt is gonna be from “Brave”:

“I wish to be so brave
As the spectate and
Photograph these things

Like the waves of tourists
That add to this
Vicious cabaret”

Some of you will pick out that V for Vendetta reference. Once again, not much form, eyeballed syllable counts, and hey it’s a simile.

Seattle might have something I’m not yet seeing, or an entrancing energy I have yet to really touch. Before that happens I’ll still try to catch it from what I’ve experienced, though I don’t know how complete my memories will be without that certain something in the background.

That’s what I’ll be doing later tonight: trying to capture it all. I’ve certainly walked away with a wealth of good memories, but I can’t phrase them. 

Meanwhile I can’t keep out of my head the fact that I’m soon going to commence training for Mount Si. A place that really does mean something to me. I’m going to pick a day this summer to go out there to North Bend, solo or otherwise, and I’m gonna climb that damn rock all the way to the top. Yeah, I know that last stretch is going to be dangerous as hell. I’m I going to climb it for the right reasons? For climbing’s sake? I guess we’ll find out.

Until next time, this is Jake Thomas Shaw from Radio Reality City! Have a lovely day!

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